Kate, the AI-Driven Personal Digital Assistant of KBC, saw daylight in December 2020. KBC always intended for Kate to “grow up in public”. This meant, we had to do a lot of (small) releases. We did a production release at least once a week. To do this at scale (Kate is live in five banks of the KBC Group: Belgium (KBC and CBC), Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria), industrialization was very important. Development and deployment needed to be swift and easy. When we started Kate, I was the first (and only) technical person on the team. But over the course of two years, multiple subteams were created and the Kate train was over 130 people strong. We created our own software factory. A software factory reduces workload by providing a standard, integrated, validated toolchain for the CI/CD pipeline and a set of engineering services to support them.
Being part of this evolution was a wonderful experience, that taught me a lot. With the software factory in place, I started looking for new challenges.
So when KBC approached me to design and create its Programmable Money Platform, I didn’t hesitate. With a small, strong team (some old faces, some new faces), we were going to create something, that could become revolutionary. KBC wanted to have a programmable e-money token, called Kate Coin, based on blockchain technology. A completely new economy, based on technology like web 3.0 and cryptocurrency, is developing and KBC wants to remain the reference in digital banking. Kate Coin is a stable coin, used in a closed-loop environment. This means it only holds value in that environment.
Last Sunday, we did a large-scale test at Werchter Boutique. Over 8000 KBC employees could purchase Kate Coins and spend them on food and drinks. All of this from within KBC Mobile, voted the “best mobile banking app in the world”. This had never been done in Europe. It is pretty unique for a software engineer to be backstage at an event of this scale and I consider myself very lucky to have been a part of it.
KateCoin was build on top of Hyperledger Fabric, a Blockchain Platform for the Enterprise. It uses smart contracts, that run when predetermined conditions (an agreement between buyer and seller) are met, written in Java code. From a technical point-of-view, Werchter Boutique was (only) a test: agreements with partners have already been made to grow this ecosystem, meaning external companies will run their own peer nodes. We are currently working on making Kate Coin available in KBC Mobile for its 1.8 million users.
And, related to the KBC Programmable Money Platform, more exciting things are coming! Our team is ready!